Adulting as tragedy.
OK. I can handle that. Good stuff. "Being an adult is hard," and that is normative. No need to congratulate yourself with a hashtag-friendly catchphrase.
But there's another layer to this that's a little more insidious.
Remember, when you were younger, reading those novels where parents and adults were unbelievable messes? Like, both the adults in The Poisonwood Bible, if I remember correctly, were severely unbalanced. I remember reading that book at 24 or so and thinking, "Is this person even real?" It seemed so intense that it was practically campy.
And what about all the depraved cowboys in The Englishman's Boy or Unforgiven? For a while, I could barely believe that they weren't just caricatures. They seemed just too out of step with ethics and morality.
But then I became a public school teacher and—30 of them a class, four times a day—I met the wide spread of the human condition, sprawled all over the political compass.
And then I became older myself and saw more and more despondent, impulsive people all around me, and I realized they weren't over-acting. These were just adults being adults.
And I met the people whose conditions fill up the DSM.
And I found that I have my place in there too.
This is the real tragedy of adulting: seeing the mess adults make, how we ever-so-easily mess each other's lives, how those seemingly exaggerated characters from novels… live next door to you. That's where the hashtag belongs—as a marker of our unhinged, extended, adult reality.
Long live adulting.
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